City weighs buying hotel, IHOP without county support

City weighs buying hotel, IHOP without county support

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by STEVE HARRISON / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 11:05 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Will the city of Charlotte move forward with plans to buy what city staff has called a troubled hotel, along with an empty hotel and IHOP restaurant along Independence Boulevard?

The city planned to buy the still-open Charlotte Inn hotel for $1.9 million, with Mecklenburg County picking up half of the cost.

The plan was to demolish the buildings, removing blight. That would help residents of the Commonwealth neighborhood nearby, and possibly make it easier to rejuvenate the area around Bojangles’ Coliseum.

But Mecklenburg County Commissioners deadlocked last week 4-4 on the city request – a decision that was essentially a no vote.

Charlotte City Council is scheduled to go into closed session Thursday at 2 p.m., where members likely will discuss the Independence purchases.

The city’s economic development office declined to comment because the issues are being discussed in closed session.

A Power Point presentation from a Sept. 18 closed session meeting of Mecklenburg commissioners gives insight into the city’s plans.

• The city is considering buying the Charlotte Inn hotel, which sits on 5.12 acres at 2701 E. Independence Blvd. and is still in business. The city’s real estate division negotiated a sales price for $1.9 million, even though the property has been appraised at $1.34 million.

The initial asking price was $3 million. The city reportedly has an option to buy the hotel.

The city had requested the county to chip in $950,000. Council members now will have to decide whether to pay the entire purchase price.

City staff has told council members the hotel is a crime magnet, with a high number of police calls.

• The city also is considering buying an empty IHOP restaurant and Comfort Inn, at 2715 and 2721 E. Independence Blvd., respectively. The county presentation doesn’t list a sales price for that purchase.

The city would reportedly demolish the buildings and possibly turn the land into a small park. Mecklenburg County runs most parks, but it’s possible the city could move forward with the park plan and operate it on its own.

If council members vote in closed session to buy the properties, there still would be a formal vote in open session. City Attorney Bob Hagemann, who declined to discuss the closed-session discussions, said it’s city policy to purchase land in open session, where the public could comment on the decision.

The two properties are across Independence Boulevard from Bojangles’ Coliseum – an area the city is considering redeveloping into an amateur sports complex.

Council members also are scheduled to discuss at noon Thursday a capital improvement plan for this decade.

An effort to pass a $660 million plan failed in June, after Mayor Anthony Foxx vetoed a budget that he said didn’t invest enough in the city. Foxx said council members had taken too many things out of City Manager Curt Walton’s first plan, which would have spent $926 million through 2020.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/09/26/3559072/city-may-weigh-independence-blvd.html#storylink=cpy

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